On 22 March 1925, one and a half years after the Great Kantō earthquake, Radio Japan produced the first radio broadcast in the country, transmitting from Atago Hill just north of the Tokugawa Tombs in Shiba Park. The first programme included Beethoven, classical Japanese music, and a play by Ōyō. In the same year, there were also broadcasts from Ōsaka and Nagoya.
NHK was founded in 1926, modelled on the BBC of the United Kingdom. NHK evolved from the amalgamation of the three regional broadcasting corporations. This merger and reorganisation was carried out under the auspices of the pre-war Ministry of Communications.
NHK’s second radio network began in 1931, and the third radio network (FM) began in 1938. In 1935 NHK began a shortwave radio service for listeners overseas known as ‘‘Radio Japan’’ until the 1940s.
In November 1941, the Imperial Japanese Army nationalised all public news agencies and coordinated their efforts via the Information Liaison Confidential Committee. All published and broadcast news reports became official announcements of the Imperial Army General Headquarters in Tokyo for the duration of World War II. The famous Tokyo Rose wartime programs were broadcasts by NHK.
In 1950, three post-war radio rules were enacted including the Broadcast Law (“Hōsō Hō”), replacing the pre-war Radio Telegraph Law. Under this law, NHK started afresh as a special corporation to be supported by its viewers.